Find Your Audience

Joshua Bell, who is a Grammy award winning violinist, conducted a social experiment with the Washington Post, where they wanted to answer the following question: If a world famous violinist played great classical music in a city crowd, would people stop and listen?

So, on January 12, 2007, Joshua Bell put on a baseball cap and played his $3 million violin in the metro station in Washington DC.

And no one stopped to watch.

This is someone who people pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to see play and yet 1,070 people passed Bell that day without paying any attention to him.

Why? Because Bell wasn’t playing to the right audience.

What this means is that whether you’re a writer, an entrepreneur, or a creator, you have to understand who your audience is, which is the group of people who actually want to listen to you play.

Unfortunately, not everyone is going to want to hear what you’re playing, which is fine because you can’t please everybody. No one can play something that everyone wants to hear.

Bell is considered to be one of the greatest violinist in the world, but it wouldn’t have mattered how great Bell is if he had spent his life trying to play to the wrong crowd.

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14 thoughts on “Find Your Audience

    1. It’s on YouTube under the Washington post channel, it’s got millions of views:) That’s awesome that you’ve heard about it though, it’s one of my favorite stories, so much lessons I think can be learned from it:)

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      1. Oh wow, I heard of him based on the social experiment, props to you for actually listening to him before👌🏼But yea he’s definitely great. I just listened to him playing the song you mentioned, it was very nice so thank you for mentioning that:)

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  1. So very true and inspiring! Reminds me of the quote “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live his whole life believing that it’s stupid”. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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    1. I love that quote! That’s actually really interesting because If Bell had always played to the wrong audience then he would’ve gone his entire life thinking he was bad at the violin. I don’t think I would have ever thought about connecting those two ideas together so thank you for that insight:)

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  2. “If someone doesn’t like what you’re doing, that’s fine.” I love this statement. It can be hard to stomach but I try to own this. Just because something is not for me, I accept that and it’s ok.

    Some people get caught up in lashing out. Which reminds me of a winter beach trip I took recently with a friend. Instead of him concluding that it’s not his thing, he lashed out. I think it’s because in the moment he didn’t realize that it’s ok. Instead he thought it was best to try to convince me that it was boring and I made the wrong decision.

    With that being said, Joshua Bell’s name alone makes me smile. I know you mentioned NYC but this experiment also took place in Washington, DC, where I was working at the time. I remember reading about it later and I was blown away. It’s because of this experiment that I became a fan and went out and brought his CD. It amazed me that Bell is this great musician that plays to sold-out crowds and people just simply ignored him. There, I believed, was a lesson for both the crowd and Bell himself.

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    1. This was a great comment to read:) no I definitely agree that it’s very hard to stomach this idea right. If someone leaves a bad comment on your post, it’s not easy to just ignore it, but you have to understand that feeling is normal. As long as you logically know that it actually is fine, then you can always move on. The hard part is when you actually don’t think it’s fine, then you may like your friend did, lash out. That’s great you bought the CD though, props to you, maybe I’ll do that too just as a reminder of the lesson. I really do think everyone could learn something from this experiment:)

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